Intended for healthcare professionals


Prehospital care for road traffic casualties

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 03 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:279

Untrained doctors' first aid kit is simple

  1. Mark J Coates, associate specialist (
  1. Accident and Emergency, Rochdale Infirmary, Rochdale OL12 0NB
  2. Medical Microbiology, Exeter Public Health Laboratory, Exeter EX2 5AD
  3. University of New Mexico, ACC 4-West, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA
  4. Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital, 4888 South Ridgeside Circle, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA

    EDITOR—Coats and Davies make the point in their article that the prehospital arena is not an area where untrained and inexperienced doctors can be expected to perform at a high level.1 The point is also made, however, that all doctors may expect to pass or come across motor vehicle accidents during their lifetime and should be able to provide at least good quality first aid until other emergency services arrive at the scene. What equipmentis required to enable the inexperienced doctor to provide this first aid?

    Most preventable trauma deaths occurring before the emergency services arrive are caused by an obstructed airway. Many doctors carry pieces of equipment and kit just in case something happens—intravenous cannulae or drips, for example—but in reality, surprisingly little equipment is required.

    • A high visibility jacket is essential.

    • A supply of latex gloves will enable airways to be cleared and opened and pressure to be applied to bleeding points

    • A pocket mask will enable ventilatory support to be given to apnoeic patients (whether due to trauma or medical causes)

    Medical practitioners can rely on all other …

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